Posted on November 10, 2004

3 Police Officers Hurt in Netherlands Raid

Anthony Deutsch, AP, Nov. 10

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Suspects holed up in a house under police assault Wednesday threw a hand grenade, injuring three officers conducting the terrorism-related raid.

Authorities closed air space for small planes over the city as part of the operation.

Hague Chief Prosecutor Han Moraal said the raid was part of a “continuing investigation into terrorism,” but would not confirm whether it was related to the Nov. 2 killing of filmmaker Theo van Gogh by an alleged Islamic radical.

Suspects were still inside the building, Hague Police Chief Gerard Bouwman said at a press conference, and confirmed that police and the suspects had exchanged gunfire.

“At the moment of assault, a hand grenade was thrown at the arrest team,” Bouwman said. “It exploded and several officers were hurt.”

Mayor Wim Deetman said negotiators were trying to end the standoff peacefully.

Several city blocks were cordoned off in a mostly immigrant neighborhood near The Hague’s Holland Spoor train station. The building was surrounded by police in riot gear, fire engines, ambulances and SWAT teams.

Bouwman said one of the injured police officers had been briefly treated and sent home, while the other two remained hospitalized, one with serious injuries.

“No vital organs were hurt, but he suffered considerable injuries,” Bouwman said.

Sylvia Cordia, 42, who lives across the street from the house, said she saw several explosions.

“I saw one policeman crumble to the ground and another was dragged away to safety,” she said, adding that the suspects shouted threats in broken Dutch when the police asked them to surrender.

“There were several people in the house, and I heard a man yelling ‘I’ll chop your head off’ and yelling profanities,” she said.

Photographers captured images of a man of Asian descent wearing only boxer shorts being dragged from the building and escorted away, but police would not confirm the apparent arrest.

There have been more than a dozen arson attacks in the Netherlands against churches and mosques since Van Gogh’s killing in Amsterdam more than a week ago. An Islamic school in Eindhoven was bombed Monday night, and another in Uden was burned down Tuesday. No injuries were reported.

Van Gogh had received death threats after the release of his most recent film about the treatment of women under Islam.

Six suspects, believed to be members of a terrorist group, are being held in custody, including the alleged killer, 26-year-old Mohammed Bouyeri, who holds dual Dutch and Moroccan nationality.

Prime Minister Balkenende said he was “concerned about the hardening climate in the Netherlands” and condemned the cycle of reprisals.

“We have to utterly reject this violence, all together, because we’re being un-Dutch,” he said.

Islamic School Set Ablaze in Netherlands

AP, Nov. 9

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Suspected arsonists set an Islamic elementary school on fire Tuesday amid a string of attacks following the killing of a Dutch filmmaker by an alleged Islamic extremist.

Firefighters struggled to extinguish the flames at the burning Bedir school in the southern town of Uden, where someone had scrawled “Theo Rest in Peace” in the building in homage to slain filmmaker Theo van Gogh, but the building was destroyed in the blaze.

Uden Mayor Joke Kersten told Dutch television she didn’t know the exact cause of the fire but suspected arson. She said the school had not been the target of prior attacks.

Arsonists attempted to burn down Protestant churches in Rotterdam, Utrecht and Amersfoort in apparent retaliation for the bombing of a Muslim elementary school in Eindhoven on Monday, police said.

Muslim sites have been the target of a half-dozen attacks in the past week. No injuries have been reported and no arrests have been made.

Tensions have been high in the Netherlands in the week since the murder of Van Gogh, who was shot and stabbed in Amsterdam by an alleged Islamic radical after making a movie critical of Islam. A funeral was held for Van Gogh on Tuesday.

In Utrecht, police arrived Tuesday to find that a church window had been smashed and a container of flammable liquid thrown inside. In Amersfoort, several Molotov cocktails were thrown at the outside wall of a church.